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My Story with Will Wright, Community Engagement Specialist

Posted on December 16, 2014


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ELGL’s mission is to connect, communicate, and educate. One way we do that is by “telling our story.” Today we learn the story of Will Wright.
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Right now, I am working on…
.going the next mile, literally. I’m on my first multi-day bicycle trip and it’s kicking my butt. Other than that, this is a time of reflection and introspection for me before I start the next big adventure.

I aspire to….work in local government. Also, to help communities work together to make the world a better place.

My top three career accomplishments are…

  • Reducing a national park’s reliance on herbicide by incorporating additional treatment methods (including torching the plants).
  • Leading my students to co-design the syllabus for our discussion-based class with me.
  • Showing up, no matter what challenge(s) the group I’m working with is currently facing.

When no one else is in the car, I…

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….dance. If the road is clear (like closed-course clear), I might even incorporate the car in the dance.

My most frustrating experience in local government was….sitting through a commission meeting. The room was obviously not designed for an audience and I had support column blocking my view of half the commission. I also couldn’t see the powerpoint slides to which they kept referring. Even though I wasn’t expecting to participate, a part of me still wanted to shout “This is not how you run a public meeting!”

Here are three tips for interviewing……

  • Be curious about the other person(s). This allows for a relationship to begin forming.
  • Listen, actively. It will help with tip #1
  • Be prepared. Understanding the larger context of the interview will help with #1 and #2. If you can’t get a full grasp of the context, you’ll at least know where to start with your curiosity.

downloadIn terms of telling the local government story, I think local government……could do a better job of showing it’s human side. This exercise is a great example of what I mean by the human side. We aren’t faceless, nameless, emotionless bureaucrats, and I think a lot of people forget that we’re their neighbors and that we are, in a lot of ways, just like them. Allowing our humanity into our everyday interactions as well as in our more intentional storytelling could do a lot for building trust.

If I could start a non-profit to assist local government, I would focus on….finding interesting, intriguing, and engaging ways for government to listen, not just the periodic planning processes or for a new project, but on an on-going basis. Of course listening means not just gathering information but processing it and sharing back the understanding that information has given you — quite a complicated process when “you” are a city or county.

For the next person that you interview, I would ask….What’s one thing that can always cheer you up, no matter how bad a day it’s been?

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Top of my list is probably a really good song that gets me up and dancing.

You should have asked me….why I’m drawn to this work. I’m drawn to individuals working in community. Local government is a natural fit for that aspiration as it’s the right scale (small enough where an individual can make a difference, large enough for that difference to matter), is institutionalized (lending it a degree of durability), and has the legitimacy of expectation (the leaders of our local governments are often seen as the leaders of our communities and are thus expected to lead).

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